KIGALI - Agriculture Minister, Agnes Kalibata, has called for concrete action in making food security a reality on the continent.
Addressing a four-day intergovernmental committee of experts meeting in Kigali yesterday, the Minister said it was time for Africa to put words into action, by reflecting on mistakes that were committed in agriculture several years ago.
“Words don’t feed people, conferences don’t feed people. It is the actions that we get out of those words that feed people,” Kalibata told delegates from over twelve African countries.
She added that, although farmers in Africa are engaged in food production, they lack enough machinery and enough fertilizers to ensure food security.
Franked by Antonio Pedro, the Director of the Sub Regional office of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Kalibata called for investment in research and storage systems to enable African farmers increase food production.
“What you invest in is what you get. For instance, it is still easier to get fertilizers from Ukraine than from Egypt. This is why there is need to put our actions together and start looking at how we can have plans that deliver,” she said.
She informed participants that a Food Action Plan in the East African Community (EAC) had been drafted and that it would be presented to the EAC Heads of State meeting later this month.
Pedro emphasized the need to formulate common positions and continued exchange of experience in solving food insecurity in the region.
He said that recent Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) statistics suggest that in the East African Community, nearly 20 million people are food insecure.
“In the IGAD region, the number rises to over 70 million people, with 15% cereal food deficit and imports amounting to 1.1 million tons. The picture in CEPGL is equally dramatic,” he underscored.
World Food Programme (WFP) and FAO put the numbers at nearly 58 million with a significant segment of vulnerable people depending on food aid.